Friday, July 30, 2010

Would You Want to be a Student in Your Class?

As educators, it is important to evaluate the tone we set in our classroom.  Of course, we think we set a positive nurturing tone… but how do we know for sure?  After all, it might surprise you to know how your students view you.   Are you energetic, supportive, and encouraging?  Do you unconsciously grimace in frustration the fifth time you ask a student to quit tapping their pencil?  Do you fly through the lessons, or take too long? These are important questions we should be asking ourselves because the tone we set directly impacts student learning.   Are you brave enough?  Following are three ways we can assess ourselves to find out for sure.

The Standard Observation

The first and most common way of assessment is to have a trusted and objective teacher (or administrator) observe a lesson or two.  Let him/her know if there is a particular area you would like to focus on (i.e. length of lesson).  Try to teach in your normal style instead of playing to your observer, this way you will get a more accurate assessment.  Be prepared to hear the constructive criticism, and act on any recommendations. 

Videotape a Lesson

The second way is to videotape a lesson.  Simply set up a camera in the back of the room and press play.  The nice thing about videoing a lesson is that you can go back and review it at your leisure.  Try leaving the camera running during transitions for extra insights.   This is an easy and valuable way to assess your teaching.

Watch Yourself Through Your Students

I have to say, this is my favorite way to evaluate myself.  Your students watch you all day.  They know your style better than anyone.  Pick a dependable student to teach a short review lesson.  You will essentially be watching yourself teach because they will mimic your teaching!  My students absolutely LOVE to ‘step into the teachers shoes.' I encourage you to try this in your classroom!


Self-assessment is as good for us as it is for our students.  If you’ve never tried to see yourself through your student’s eyes before, try it this year.  Then ask yourself, "Would you want to be a student in your class?" You will be doing both yourself and your students a valuable service.

1 comment:

  1. You make several good recommendations. I have videotaped myself and used peer observations. The latter is part of the annual instructor review process where I work. Having students "teach" is also a good technique, especially if you can get them to think about what they want to accomplish. Most start off with a transmissional approach, but with discussion and feedback, they start thinking about what they really want to accomplish with their learners (i.e., peers). This awareness-raising has helped many to adjust their outlook toward learning in the classroom environment.